Raleigh, N.C. — A local group is hosting what might be the first Drag Queen Story Hour in Raleigh this weekend. The event is slated for 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., Saturday, June 29, at Medicine Mama's Farmacy, 4701 Atlantic Ave.
It's part of a national movement in libraries, schools and bookstores where drag queens read stories to children. The events have lured crowds at some venues and sparked outrage and protests at others.
The national movement aims to capture the "imagination and play of the gender fluidity of childhood and gives kids glamorous, positive, and unabashedly queer role models," according to its website. "In spaces like this, kids are able to see people who defy rigid gender restrictions and imagine a world where people can present as they wish, where dress up is real."
Here in the Triangle, Elise Chenoweth, a Clayton mom, is helping to organize the event and hopes to make it a monthly one if all goes smoothly.
"I'm a local mom, born and raised in North Carolina and I'm doing my best to raise my son to believe that above all kindness is everything," she tells me. "One of the ways I try to do this is by sharing how, in the words of Todd Parr, it's OK to be different."
Stephanie Berry-Terry, co-owner of Medicine Mama's Farmacy, jumped at the chance to host the event when Chenoweth was searching for venues, she tells me. "The stories we choose will discuss diversity in gender, race, nationality, ability, and more," Chenoweth said. "We will also have stories that are just plain fun and silly. If you are apprehensive, we encourage you to join us with an open heart and an open mind."
Drag Queen Story Hour is typically targeted to kids ages 3 to 8, but it is open to all. Along with stories, there will be singing, dancing, snacks and crafts. Starbucks will provide coffee for the parents. As the event winds down, the two visiting drag queens, Amazing Grace and Satine Allure, will pose for pictures with kids and parents.
"In a society where LGBTQ culture is becoming more mainstream and being recognized in the media, it is important to create an introduction to our youth," says Satine Allure, a local drag queen who also is Miss Clamazon Entertainer of the Year. "Drag Queen Story Hours are popping up all across the country, all with a similar message: love and acceptance. North Carolina is slowly progressing into a more accepting place, and Raleigh has been known for being more open and accepting. We chose to bring the story hour to Raleigh because we believe in the message that it sends, and we want to teach our youth to understand and accept everyone, regardless of their differences."
More information about the Raleigh event is on Facebook.